Christopher Plummer, the prolific and versatile Canadian-born actor who rose to celebrity as the romantic lead in perhaps the most popular movie musical of all time, was critically lionized as among the pre-eminent Shakespeareans of the past century and won an Oscar, two Tonys and two Emmys, died on Friday at his home in Weston, Conn. He was 91.
His wife, Elaine Taylor, said the cause was a blow to the head as a result of a fall.
The Sound of Music, released to huge success in 1965, proved Plummer's breakthrough to stardom.
His Captain von Trapp begins as an authoritarian father who treats his children like a military unit but soon makes a key turn to reveal himself as a loving father.
Plummer sows enough seeds early in the film that he is not the bully he appears to be so that when he makes the turn, it's entirely believable.
Plummer was originally reluctant to take on the role, and in 2018 told the Guardian he was "furious" when he found out his singing voice was going to be dubbed.
"I'd worked on my singing for so long, but in those days, they'd have someone trained who would sing through dubbing. I said: 'The only reason I did this bloody thing was so I could do a musical on stage on film!'"
"The part was not exactly Hamlet," Plummer explained to Winfrey. "There wasn't enough humour in it."
He was very sensitive to the danger that unless they were careful the film could become very mawkish and sentimental, "and there were a lot of nuns present all the time, which always makes you feel a little bit irreverent. It does me." Plummer even came up with his own nickname for the musical: "The Sound of Mucus."
At age 80, Plummer received his very first Oscar nomination for his supporting work as writer Leo Tolstoy in Michael Hoffman's "The Last Station."
In addition to his Oscar nod, Plummer also received a Screen Actors Guild nomination for his performance.
For his performance in "Beginners" as Hal, a 75 year-old who comes out as gay after the death of his wife, Plummer won his first Academy Award, Golden Globe and SAG Award as the year's best supporting actor.
Hal is loosely based on the real-life experience of writer/director Mike Mills' own father, Paul, but Plummer adds some flourishes of his own, with a relaxed physical gait that suggests an unburdening from the tension of living in the closet for so long. A wonderfully subtle piece of work.
The story behind Plummer's casting in Ridley Scott's "All the Money in the World" is as famous as the film itself.
With Scott's film completely shot and awaiting release, co-star Kevin Spacey became involved in a sexual abuse scandal, and Scott made the decision to recast Plummer in the Spacey role as J.P. Getty, filming furiously for six weeks in order to make the film's Christmas Day release date.
And it turns out that Plummer's steely performance as the multi-billionaire is one of his best ever.
For his performance as Getty, Plummer received his third Oscar nomination and his third Golden Globe nomination in the film category.
He has won two Tony awards (out of seven nominations) for his stage work — the musical "Cyrano" (1974) and the one-man show "Barrymore" (1997), which was later turned into a film.
For his television work, he has also won two Emmy Awards (out of six nominations) for the TV movie "Arthur Hailey's The Moneychangers" (1977) and for his voice-over performance in the animated "Madeline" (1994).
Chris was an extraordinary man who deeply loved and respected his profession with great old fashion manners, self deprecating humor and the music of words. He was a National Treasure who deeply relished his Canadian roots. Through his art and humanity, he touched all of our hearts and his legendary life will endure for all generations to come. He will forever be with us.